What did the Dalek say to the kitchen?


Which, combined with the second trailer and an upcoming test for which to procrastinate, somehow generated this...


Spring Cleaning

The Doctor hated his ears. They protruded. They were obnoxious. In fact, he hated almost everything about his new body. It looked like it had been run over by a Yeti in a locomotive, and it meant nothing to him except that he was one life, one soul, one bungle closer to the end. He could almost sympathize with the Master.

For a while he hid in the Zero Room and willed the rest of the TARDIS to go away. Later, forgetting, he opened the door and was almost sucked out into space. Finding himself finally safe in a maze of antiseptic corridors that he couldn't remember summoning, he stumbled up to the library and leafed mindlessly through his configuration files until he found an old console room that he had never liked. He called it up, connected it to the outer doors, discovered that he still didn't like it, and proceeded to take it apart.

He took his time about it. There are no seasons in space. The last true spring had come to Gallifrey a thousand years ago, in the morning of his life.

Hours wore into weeks. At intervals he catnapped or took tea on a plank stretched between two sawhorses. Once a dangling wire almost fried him as he dozed. After he had dealt with that, he was more awake than he could remember being in months, so he put the room on hold, went down to the gym, and slept curled up on a mat for several hours. He was back in the console room when he opened his eyes, and moved on to the next job as if there had been no interruption.

He had changed; the equations had not. This was almost more confusing than if the universe had somehow twisted itself out of shape, as he had done, rather than meeting his private calamity with such frightful indifference. He found himself staring at components as if he had never seen them before, ignoring the familiar voices that could have told him what they were. He fouled his hands with grease and soot, burnt or froze them on obscure technology, reeled away from his own reflected face.

One day, arresting his throat on a word that he had never said in his life, he decided that it was time to learn to speak.

He did this in a room that was soundproof, without echoes, and completely dark, trying not to imagine the TARDIS looming around him and wondering what he was. He started by converting the complete works of P.G. Wodehouse into NightVision format. The letters glowed green from the pages, and the words melted into the darkness as he read them aloud.

Near the end, he started playing with his voice, acting out the characters, reading in famous accents and styles: Churchill (measured and a bit thick), Lincoln (high and strident), Newton (clipped and tense), Socrates (morbidly irate). When he had run out of personal acquaintances he started in on voices he had never met. He never touched his own previous accents, or the voice of anyone who had traveled with him. He turned from Wodehouse to the 3842th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a fully interactive digital volume with a choice of sixty-eight hundred Earth dialects, and waded through that in less than a month.

Now and then he returned to the half-finished console room, muttering incessantly over the interminable diagnostics. For a while his voice bounced around the room with him. Finally it sank into the background hum of the instruments and the whirring of recirculated air.

One day he put a hatstand by the door.

"I could trip a Sontaran with that," he said to himself.

And he realized that he had been listening.


The next time he caught a glimpse of himself in a shiny component he nodded in a satisfied manner, as if to a distant colleague. The other voices had faded somewhat. The mirrored face was thinner, and its eyes were vague and unthreatening. There was something lived-in about it.

The work went more slowly after that. He started tripping over loose tools in the console room, and put at least sixty of them away. His mind no longer shut down when he ate or slept. Still unable to read by real light, he converted a few more books and left them in the library. He wrote a program to remove all traces of his former selves from his old quarters, got the TARDIS to trick it out in plain beige and dim light, hung his smudged clothes in the closet, and drifted off in a soft chair three times before it occurred to him to use the bed.

One day he realized that the Time Lords were cannibals, apportioning the stolen lives of their lower classes to the elite as brain-dead regenerational templates. He woke up screaming. It wasn't true. For the next eight hours he devoured the complete (and utterly benign) history of regenerational technology, sifted through the memories of his regenerations and previous lives, and carefully cut his hair too short to get a grip on. Then he curled up in the Zero Room again, floating in midair with his head between his arms and his knees drawn up to his ears, letting the light filter into his brain and trying to hear his double heartbeat.

Finally he returned to the console room, knelt in the middle of the floor, and let down his guard.

The sounds curled around him; the colors firmed, solidified, became shapes that he had worked on himself. They told him of the past and present, of things that were happening far away and close to hand. They spoke in his own voice. They reminded him of things that he already knew, and his mind spoke back and told them things they had never known.

He touched the console. Thousands of destinations presented themselves for his approval. He had been to some of them, in one way or another. He knew what they represented, and what he might mean to each one.

The Master was wrong. There was no time to steal immortality from the mortals. One's own life was boon enough -- eccentric and irreplaceable.

He burst into song, and then into mad laughter.

Someday he might even get used to the ears.